Treating cockroach phobia with augmented reality

Behav Ther. 2010 Sep;41(3):401-13. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2009.07.002. Epub 2010 Mar 20.


In vivo exposure is the recommended treatment of choice for specific phobias; however, it demonstrates a high attrition rate and is not effective in all instances. The use of virtual reality (VR) has improved the acceptance of exposure treatments to some individuals. Augmented reality (AR) is a variation of VR wherein the user sees the real world augmented by virtual elements. The present study tests an AR system in the short (posttreatment) and long term (3, 6, and 12 months) for the treatment of cockroach phobia using a multiple baseline design across individuals (with 6 participants). The AR exposure therapy was applied using the "one-session treatment" guidelines developed by Ost, Salkovskis, and Hellström (1991). Results showed that AR was effective at treating cockroach phobia. All participants improved significantly in all outcome measures after treatment; furthermore, the treatment gains were maintained at 3, 6, and 12-month follow-up periods. This study discusses the advantages of AR as well as its potential applications.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cockroaches
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • User-Computer Interface*
  • Young Adult